An immunohistochemical study of the organization of catecholaminergic cells and terminal fields in the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus

L. W. Swanson, P. E. Sawchenko, A. Bérod, B. K. Hartman, K. B. Helle, D. E. Vanorden

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Abstract

The distribution of catecholaminergic fibers and cell bodies in the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus was investigated with immunohistochemical methods in the adult albino rat. Sections through the nuclei were stained with antisera to the catecholamine synthesizing enzymes tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), dopamine‐ß‐hydroxylase (DBH), and phenylethanolamine‐N‐methyltransferase (PNMT). The results suggest that adrenergic (PNMT‐stained) fibers innervate the entire parvocellular division of the paraventricular nucleus, although the highest density of fibers was found in the medial part of the division. Only widely scattered adrenergic fibers are found in the magnocellular division of the nucleus and in the supraoptic nucleus. Noradrenergic fibers appear to innervate the periventricular zone of the paraventricular nucleus and those parts of the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei that contain predominantly vasopressinergic neurons in both the normal and in the homozygous Brattleboro rat. Significant numbers—somewhat more than 500—of dopaminergic (TH‐stained) neurons are found in the paraventricular nucleus; the cells are distributed throughout the nucleus but are concentrated in the medial and periventricular parts of the parvocellular division. Double‐labeling experiments with the retrogradely transported tracer true blue indicate that between 4% and 8% of the dopaminergic neurons in the paraventricular nucleus project to the region of the dorsal vagal complex and/or to thoracic levels of the spinal cord. It is concluded that adrenergic inputs to the paraventricular nucleus may influence cells that project to the median eminence and to preganglionic autonomic cell groups in the medulla and spinal cord. Noradrenergic inputs to the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei may influence primarily vasopressinergic cells that project to the posterior lobe of the pituitary, as well as cells in the periventricular part of the paraventricular nucleus that project to the median eminence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Volume196
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 20 1981

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